The Freedom Challenge

The Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa is an "unsupported" non-stage mountain bike race of approximately 2,300 km across South Africa. While recent winners have won in around 11 days, the race cut-off is 26 days. The race starts in Pietermaritzburg in early-to-mid-June, and ends in Paarl near Cape Town. Temperatures are known to drop as low as minus-10 deg. Celsius. While there are periodic "support stations" which will feed and accommodate riders should they require, the race is unsupported in the sense that riders must carry their own clothing and equipment, are responsible for their own maintenance and navigation (without the aid of GPS), and there are no marshalls or safety officials on the course (Race monitoring is done by satellite tracking). Estimates of cumulative ascent are around 37,000 metres, and the highest point on the route is approximately 2,700 metres above sea level. See the following link for an introductory slideshow by Mike Roy -

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A few big rides

With my own riding curtailed for the moment due to rest and an extended recovery from illness, I've been following the antics of a few other riders to ward off the restlessness and feed the bike habit: - Three guys, Craig, Danie and Rohan (and their supporter Sarah) following the route from Beit Bridge to Cape Point, first formalised in 2011 by Steve Thomas and David Bristow. The route spans 3500km of South African countryside, with a brief detour through Lesotho. Although they have the luxury of a support vehicle following them, this ride can be done without support, as it makes use of commercially available accommodation along the way (campsites, lodges, BnB's). Food and provisions can also be sourced in the various towns, villages and spaza shops along the route. They are currently past the halfway mark and somewhere in Lesotho... They are blogging and posting updates whenever possible ( and are having a grand adventure with their fair share of foul weather to spice things up. - A guy and a girl from Cape Town, Luke and Marian, doing a similar thing but choosing their own route from Pretoria to Cape town, over a distance of roughly 1100km. They are riding with full touring kit, carrying their own tents, sleeping bags etc and following the district and back-roads of South Africa. As previous finishers of the Tour dÁfrique, Tour Divide and other multi-day rides, they could be considered old hands at this. Most of their progress can be followed on Twitter ( - Jaco Strydom has been on his bike for the last 112 days. He started in Paarl, way back in June, and traced an anti-clockwise route around  South Africa, which followed the Freedom Trail to Pietermariztburg and then went north via Swaziland to Beit Bridge. From there he continued along the northern border, crossing the Kalahari and Namaqualand, on his way back to Paarl. His arrival back in Paarl (later today) will signal the end of a mammoth journey of over 6000km, an truly inspirational ride!,3854.2440.html - Earlier this week, the iconic Tour Divide record was broken by Jay Petervary. The Great Divide Trail runs from Canada, along the Continental Divide (Rocky Mountains) to Mexico and is raced every year by a group of riders in what is known as the 'Tour Divide.' The record was broken earlier this year, by a rookie from New Zealand, Oliver Whalley, who completed the 2745mile (4417km) route in an impressive 16days 02hours 46min.  The route can also be raced as an 'individual time trial' at any time of the year (weather permitting) and as a previous record holder and 3-time finisher, Jay Petervary came back and reclaimed the record, taking it down to 15days 16hours 14min in an impressive solo effort.

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